In the town square folks would gather to listen to speakers voicing their opinion about the situation that was brewing (pun intended). In one corner you could listen to a speaker advocating remaining loyal to the British Crown while nearby another speaker was calling for complete independence from England. If you wanted to hear the opinions of the day, or if you wanted to express your own thoughts, the town square was the place to be.
That town square still exists today. It has evolved, locally, into Queens Public Television (QPTV), Channels 34, 35, 56 and 57, where each day hundreds of Queens Residents exercise their First Amendment right to speak freely. Yesterday's soapbox is today's digital community channels. There are hundreds of voices speaking in over a dozen different languages to thousands of viewers. The town square has grown up and gone digital and is now part of the "global village". King George may be a faded memory, but there is still a need for the community to make its voice heard. We may not always agree with the speaker, but we must recognize the speaker's right to express their ideas unencumbered.
In a world where technology governs our lives more than ever, I find myself concerned with how that technology is enhancing our ability to communicate with each other. With improved technology we can communicate faster with cell phones and the Internet, but what about the quality of the message? Email and text messaging rule the day but are we really saying anything of import to each other? Remember that technology should enhance our ability to communicate and perhaps advance the society as a whole as happened with the invention of the wheel, or the discovery of flight. Technology has expanded the town square to global proportions and the speakers are numerous and the voices are diverse.
The concept of Free Speech is one of our National Treasures. Help protect the global town square by supporting your local community channels. Join us in the digital town square, where there is always a lively discussion taking place.
"If the fires of freedom and civil liberties burn low in other lands, they must be made brighter in our own. If in other lands the press and books and literature of all kinds are censored, we must redouble our efforts here to keep them free."
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt